Vision is a Full-Time Job
When an organization has a clear, compelling, and consistently communicated vision, you will find a workplace where people show up every day with their hearts on fire. You’ll also find that behind the scenes a few diligent leaders have spent countless hours doing the hard work of crafting that vision and simplifying it so that everyone can run with it.
With many of the CEOs that I’ve worked with, I tell them that vision is a full-time job. Maintaining vision in a company is a crucial task that requires constant attention and the effort of the entire executive leadership team. And in a fast-growing company, changes happen quicker, and quick change is disorienting for everyone. It has been said that people need to hear a message 7 to 13 times in order to “get it.” That puts a tremendous responsibility on the executive team to intentionally share ‘the why’ and make sure that each employee understands the roadmap guiding the company towards its long-term and short-term goals. In short, that means a lot of conversations pointing everyone back to the vision.
Without a clear and well-defined vision, a company can easily lose its way, waste money, lose its focus, and struggle to achieve success. In this blog, we’ll explore why maintaining vision in a company is so important and what it takes to do it effectively.
- Vision is the foundation of a company.
A company’s vision is the foundation on which everything else is built. It provides direction and purpose to the organization, guiding decision-making at all levels. Without a clear vision, employees may struggle to understand their role in the company or what the company is trying to achieve.
- Vision must be lived and breathed by leadership.
One of the main pain points CEOs share with us is the lack of vision alignment with the entire executive team. If you were to ask each executive what the vision of the company is, you would get as many answers as there are executives. In some companies struggling with vision alignment, you have competing visions. It is true that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Maintaining vision in a company requires leadership to embody and live the vision every day. Leaders must model the behavior they expect from employees and ensure that their actions are consistent with the company’s vision. This means making difficult decisions that are in line with the company’s long-term goals, even if they may not be popular in the short term. It also means holding employees accountable for their actions and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same vision.
- Vision must be communicated effectively.
Maintaining vision in a company requires effective communication. It’s not enough to simply have a vision statement on the company website or in a handbook. Vision must be communicated consistently and regularly to all employees through various channels including meetings, memos, and company-wide communications. This requires a dedicated effort to ensure that everyone understands the company’s vision and how their work contributes to achieving it.
- Vision must be kept white-hot.
I’ve heard it said that vision leaks, fades, and wanes. I encourage CEOs and executive leadership teams to take time regularly to pull back from the whirlwind of work and “get up on the mountain” to regain clarity. Sometimes, simply scheduling an hour to revisit the company’s vision and journal out a few answers to leadership questions, helps keep the vision stoked in their heads and hearts. For many leaders, revisiting the company’s vision and aligning it with their own individual purpose helps add fuel to the fire. I remember being the President of an organization and an operations leader thanked me for taking time during a planning session to share our vision with fresh insights from my heart. He said, “I like when you are on fire because the flames get on all of us and we burn as one again for the thing that matters most.”
In conclusion, maintaining vision in a company is a full-time job that requires ongoing attention and effort. It’s not enough to simply define a vision and then forget about it. Vision must be constantly evaluated, communicated, embodied by leadership, and aligned with company culture. By making vision a priority, companies can ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and achieve long-term success.
Jonathan Gulley, Partner